Concerns over second Conway investigation

Parliamentary insiders are raising concerns at the length of time an investigation into disgraced MP Derek Conway is taking.

They are understood to be writing to the parliamentary standards commissioner John Lyon enquiring about the duration of the case.

Mr Conway, the MP who had the Conservative party whip withdrawn earlier this year for making improper payments to his son, is under investigation by Mr Lyon for a second time.

A spokesperson for Mr Lyon’s office confirmed a second complaint had been received by the commissioner and that the complaint was the subject of a current on-going investigation. But they would not comment on the specifics of the case or length of the investigation. The original complaint was made at the end of January following the publication of the original report into the MP’s use of his allowance to pay his son Frederick for work he had never carried out.

The second complaint focuses on improper payments made to Mr Conway’s other son, Henry.

In January, Labour MPs called for new investigation from the parliamentary standards commissioner into a series of payments made to Henry between 2001 and 2004. But the complaint had to come from a member of the public.

A couple of days later Duncan Borrowman, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mr Conway’s Old Bexley and Sidcup seat wrote to both John Lyon to make an official complaint and to the police officer leading the investigation into Labour funding, Acting Commander Nigel Mawer, to look into the committee’s findings but the result of the investigation by Mr Lyon is still not known.

Mr Borrowman told he has now written to Mr Lyon to ask about the progress of the investigation and raise his concerns about the length of time it appears to have taken. The letter has been sent through Norman Baker, Lib Dem MP for Lewes, who has agreed to make enquiries into the case on his behalf.

Following his investigation Mr Lyon has three options.

He can decide the complaint has no merit, in which case no further action will be required.

He can decide the complaint has some merit but work together with Mr Conway and Mr Borrowman to resolve the issue informally.

Or he can decide the complaint is serious enough to report the findings of his investigation to the Parliamentary Standards Committee for further action.

Conservative leader David Cameron originally stood by the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup until it was clear his position was untenable.

He then sought to act decisively by withdrawing the party whip when it was revealed that Mr Conway had made improper payments to several members of his family totalling £260,000 over six years.

At the time it was reported that the withdrawal of the whip was a suspension but party sources said it was unlikely Mr Conway would ever be allowed back into the Tory fold.

A press spokesperson for the Conservatives has since confirmed that Mr Conway has had the whip permanently withdrawn. They have selected a new candidate for the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency seat who will contest the general election against Mr Conway, should he chose to stand, as well as both the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates. He is currently listed as an independent MP.

In July the Conservatives were forced to publish a list of all the expenses of their front bench for the previous three months to try to end accusations of corruption and sleaze.